A month after a devastating blast tore through Beirut, a moment of silence is planned for Friday, while rescue workers continue searching for a possible survivor in the rubble.
A vigil and march were planned for Friday, as well as a moment of silence at 6:08 p.m., local time — or 11:08 a.m. ET — the moment that marked the time of the blast on Aug. 4. At least 191 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured when nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate ignited at the port in early August.
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The blast traumatized a nation already suffering for months under severe economic crisis and financial collapse, but rescue workers sparked hope with a report Thursday that a heartbeat had been detected under the debris.
A sniffer dog with a Chilean search-and-rescue team first detected something on Gemmayzeh Street as the team swept that part of the city. Then, using audio detection equipment, the team found what could be a very slow heartbeat — about 19 beats a minute.
Francesco Lermonda, a Chilean volunteer, however, said the equipment detected the sign of human life but it’s not impossible for people to survive for 30 days under those conditions.
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“Ninety-nine percent there isn’t anything, but even if there is less than 1% hope, we should keep on looking,” said Youssef Malah, a civil defense worker. He said his men would continue working throughout the night Thursday, adding that the work was extremely sensitive.
Work was suspended briefly before midnight, with protesters arriving and claiming that search efforts had halted because the Lebanese army had asked the Chilean team to stop. Some protesters then started to search the rubble themselves while others made calls to try and arrange for a crane.
“Where’s your conscience? There’s life under this building and you want to stop the work until tomorrow?” one woman told a soldier. Work resumed an hour later.
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The army issued a statement Friday in response to the criticism, saying the Chilean team stopped work half an hour before midnight fearing that a wall might collapse on them. It added that army experts inspected the site and two cranes were brought in to remove the wall after which the search resumed.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.